When he came to me, I was broken. I was learning hard life lessons and letting go of the horse that completely changed my life.
Courage waited for me. He was quiet and easy and simple.
Then I got stronger, and he let loose.
The whole experience really refocused me as a horseman. I had to consider the mental/emotional side of training and cement the zen-master-status I've been working on. No matter what, I have to be the still center of the storm. I have to not only accept what he throws at me, but calmly and proactively move towards what I want at whatever speed he can handle on that day.
Sometimes that means walking. Stopping. Getting off. Going backwards in training until we find a point we can agree on and accepting "good enough" for the day instead of pushing for more. It means letting go of what people think of us or what I want for us and just accepting what happens in a day. It means meeting Courage where he's at and rewarding what he can give me, even if it looks little and pathetic to everyone else outside us.
When I walk through the front gate at the barn, I let go of everything that's wrong with life outside it and 100% focus on Courage and what he needs and who he needs me to be.
That's what I got out of this spring.
And now again, the tables have turned. Courage has stabilized, and while other things fall apart, I realized that my little bay horse has given me a mighty gift.
That incredible zen experience--no matter what, I walk through that front gate and all my focus is on Courage. I can't always push the other things down far enough to make riding a good idea, but he meets me where I'm at and accepts who I am each day, even if it looks pathetic to everyone else. He reminds me to focus on him and he gives me his best effort without judgement.
Some days his best effort is making me laugh hysterically at his antics on the lunge, other times it's marveling at how far he's come under saddle as he offers me his new personal best of something hard we're working on.
Courage isn't just the spunky bay horse in the barn. It's a state of mind. A willingness to keep on trying when things are hard and believe against all odds that no matter what, we'll come through on the other side. Maybe not unscathed, but definitely stronger and better for the experience.
In moments like these, I realize just how much I really need Courage.